Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio in the summer of 1921, resulting in permanent paralysis from the waist down. One year later, he went back to work. Noted historian Geoffrey C. Ward, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Parkman Prize and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, who is himself a polio survivor, investigates the courage and character of the man who became the greatest president of the twentieth century.
“The Comeback,” a selection from A First-Class Temperament, the second volume in Ward’s monumental biography that began with Before the Trumpet, is the story of one extraordinary man’s struggle to regain his feet and reenter public life. Before his illness, FDR’s political future had seemed bright. He knew that pity was poison, that if the public understood the extent of his disability his career would be at an end. Roosevelt, therefore, had to teach himself the impossible: how to walk—or seem to walk—again. This is that journey, following the future president from his disastrous attempt to return to his law office to his triumphant march down the aisle at the 1924 Democratic National Convention, where, leaning on his crutches, he delivered the triumphant “Happy Warrior” speech for ill-fated presidential candidate Al Smith and was hailed as a hero. It was FDR’s new beginning.
An eBook short.
About Geoffrey C. Ward
Geoffrey C. Ward is the author of seventeen books, including three focused on FDR: Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 1882–1905; A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt (which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); and Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley. A longtime collaborator with Ken Burns, he has also won seven Emmys and written twenty-seven historical documentaries for PBS, either on his own or in collaboration with others, including The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.